Bobcats set to kick off Dunleavy Era against Big Green
HAMDEN — Two seasons ago, Baker Dunleavy experienced the ultimate as a college basketball coach, winning a national championship at Villanova alongside Jay Wright as associate head coach.
As Dunleavy embarks on his first foray as a head coach this season at Quinnipiac, his goals aren’t quite as lofty.
Dunleavy inherits a team that lost perhaps its two best players to transfer after Tom Moore was fired last March following a 10-21 season. In the MAAC preseason coaches’ poll released a few weeks ago, the Bobcats were picked to finish dead-last in the 11-team league.
But that doesn’t stop the upbeat Dunleavy, 34, from being optimistic — if realistic — about his team, which kicks off its season on Saturday against Dartmouth (2 p.m., ESPN3) at the TD Bank Sports Center.
“There are a lot of unknowns to us, and a lot of good teams in this league,” he said. “It’s not like we take offense. But that can’t be why we want to play hard and prove ourselves. Motivation has to be internal, or it won’t last. There’s a natural chip on your shoulder when you’re picked low to do better, but it’s very temporary fuel.”
Quinnipiac lost five of its top six scorers last season, including its top two. Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss have transferred to St. John’s and Rutgers, respectively. Reggie Oliver is now at Salem International. Donovan Smith and Daniel Harris have graduated.
The top returnee is senior Chaise Daniels, the Hillhouse High product who briefly contemplated transferring last
Hearst Connecticut Media file photo Quinnipiac men’s basketball coach Baker Dunleavy.